Are you thinking of doing ice fishing?
If so, you will be riding a growing wave.
That’s because ice fishing is more popular than ever. Gone are the days of sitting on a bucket and freezing. Instead, modern ice fishing is mostly about delicious pop-up shelters, high-tech electronics for finding fish, and winter fun with friends and family.
So what to buy and where to start?
In all fairness, you can get into ice fishing on dirt cheap by simply repurposing reels, lines, sinkers, bobbers, lures, hooks, and other open water fishing gear. Alternatively, invest $ 40,000 in a fancy wheelhouse with a big screen TV, bathroom, beds, and kitchen facilities. Your options vary. So let’s explore them.
No cost option
The absolute cheapest way to learn ice fishing is to team up with someone who has all of the equipment. Of course, this is not a long-term solution, but the reality is that most anglers would love to share their gear with you and have company on the ice. You want to have your own warm waterproof boots, gloves, hat, and layered outerwear. Also, be sure to bring snacks to share, a drink or two, and a flashlight so you can see tiny baits and thin lines in low light.
Let’s call “Low Cost” about $ 100. This amount will fund your basic equipment needs, even though you still need someone to drill a hole for you. Good hand snails are in the $ 80 range, and performance snails are typically in the $ 300-600 range. Recommended low-cost purchases include a beginner ice fishing rod and reel ($ 25), line ($ 5), a selection of lures ($ 15), slip bobbers and bobber stop knots ($ 5), and a variety of sinkers ( $ 5) ($ 5), tip-up reel ($ 20), tip-up reel, leader and hook ($ 10), plastic bucket or chair to sit on ($ 5 to 20) ) and a lake contour map app for your smartphone (from anywhere) for free up to $ 50).
Other inexpensive practical items include a minnow shovel, bait puck for wax worms or maggots, clip-on ice cleats, a face mask, and waterproof gloves. A more expensive device ($ 30 to $ 50) that is also good to find is an ice chisel. Ice chisels are useful for chopping icy holes and determining the depth of the ice. The latter happens through hard stinging of the ice. When the chisel jumps through the ice, you are literally on thin ice and have to get off it.
Medium cost option
Medium-cost options include all of the low-cost items listed above, as well as items that mean you really are making a commitment, namely a snail, pop-up guard, and sonar unit. Gas powered augers typically cost $ 300 to $ 600. Battery powered augers are roughly the same. Portable fish shelters cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to about $ 1,000. Basic fish finders for ice fishing range from $ 300 to $ 500, and the sonar units with GPS capabilities are a little more expensive. Underwater cameras typically cost a few hundred dollars. Portable heaters can be purchased for around $ 100 or less. Budget $ 50 to $ 100 for a deep, sturdy sled to carry your gear.
The all-in option
One of the reasons ice fishing is becoming increasingly popular is because the cold factor is decreasing. Yes, you can cool off while setting up and drilling holes, but when that’s done anglers can fish in mild temperatures in isolated shelters and modern wheeled fish houses. Upscale fish house on wheels cost $ 20,000 to $ 40,000. High-end ice fishing rods and reels can go over $ 100. Another option is to rent. Find out about rental and travel options with Explore Minnesota.